Stirrings of Spring

6:22 PM derek 0 Comments

So far on this brisk March day, even with snow all over the ground and rumors of more, it feels the closest it's ever been to spring.  At least to me, that is.  After basking and reveling in the wonderful heaps of snow we've received (and that we sorely missed last winter!), the feeling in the air smacks more and more of real springtime.  So much for the wise old groundhog; six more weeks of winter is what we've been getting, this last week and the next few days are going to be sleet and snow enough to put that little rodent's prognostications to shame....but today it feels a bit different. The snow melt is rushing down our driveway, slipping into our creeks and waterways.  Large groups of robins have been hopping about, investigating our fields.  I've been seeing canada and snow geese heading northward again, and today I heard the first kildeer "kill-deer"-ing overhead, a sure sign that the birds are coming back.  Spring is truly here when the sound of "kill-deer!  kill-deer!" is practically non-stop, and those little sand-birds are scuttling around all over the place, laying their eggs in our vegetables.  Within a week, the silence of winter is gone!  We might be expecting more snow and winter-like weather for a bit, but springs feels like it's pretty close around the corner.

The signs of spring haven't only been coming from the fields, the forests and the skies.  Our first round of 2013 seed starting has officially begun, and sprouts are already pushing themselves up from their flats! Lettuce, spinach, brassicas (kale, choi, asian greens), peppers, and alliums (leeks, onions, shallots, scallions) will be our first-born vegetables of the year!  We're also sowing a lot more herbs this year, with higher hopes of success: our parsley sprouts are ahead of the game, with cilantro, rosemary, thyme, fennel, dill, and oregano not too far behind.  Much more is on the way, not to mention our sleeping spinach and green garlic and asparagus that is soon to sprout, ready for harvest.

If spring is on the way....that can only mean that our Spring CSA 2013 season will soon be upon us!  Yep, we promised you all more information when we had it, so without further adieu....

Spring CSA 2013 is set tentatively to run from mid-April through May, up until the beginning of Summer CSA.  6 weeks of delicious organic, local produce!  Veggies we think we'll definitely have:  asparagus, bulb garlic, green garlic, turnips, daikon radishes, potatoes, spinach; Veggies we think we'll most likely have (we've sown them in flats, and they should be ready by then):  head lettuce, bok choy, braising mix, salad mix, microgreens/sprouts (baby mizuna, arugula, collards, red choi, asian greens), cilantro, fennel fronds, kale; Tentative yes veggies: arugula, beets, napa cabbage, radishes, rosemary, dill.  There is the possibility of a special, additional oyster-mushroom CSA arrangement, or oyster-mushrooms may be part of the main CSA!  If you are interested, please let us know; email or and we'll put you on our Spring CSA list.  Official sign-up to open later!  We will release more information and updates as they come.

Besides getting ready to be your farmers once again this year, we've been staying quite busy with early spring activities!  Our shiitake mushroom endeavors have got us over 100 logs inoculated already and hauled off to the oak forest to fully colonize through the summer with mycelia, and pop out shiitakes as soon as July, but most likely later in fall.  We are also happy to be hosting a little shiitake-inoculation workshop tomorrow for the University of Iowa gardeners to take part in!  They will be helping us in exchange for invaluable shiitake mushroom-growing knowledge, and a log for each visitor to take home.  We are also more-than-stoked for the soon-arrival of our spring intern, Danielle Hollis from the greater Chicago area!  She's planning on staying with us the entire season and learning all she can, and we're excited for a new face eager to learn organic farming alongside with us!  We look forward to her arrival here Sunday!

As we all know, Spring is indeed all about the "out with the old, in with the new" theme...after enjoying a winter's fill "pigging-out" on our farm-raised pork, our hog-farmer Will is soon going to be on the lookout for this year's new piglets pretty soon.  We raised two last year but this year we're looking to expand the output, as well as those we can share the spoils with, through Will's Pork Trade CSA!  Inquire with us soon if you would like to take part in the Pork-Trade!  The basics have changed a bit since out last newsletter, but go basically as follows:

  • $35 plus work(pork)-trade, or $55 buy-only if you do not want to work.  Money goes toward cost of purchasing extra piglet(s), hog panels, and water needs.  3rd pig (or 4th, if more than 6 people sign up) are split between CSA members (last year's pig was 120 lbs, so members will get at least 20 lbs pork per share).
  • Pigs are rotationally-grazed, ethically raised, naturally-fed without GMO feed, and have lots of room to play!  Work-traders work once every couple of months helping set up paddock fencing for a few hours alongside Will.  You will get to interact with the pigs and learn a lot about raising them!
To sign up for Pork Trade, Shoot Will an email or call him:!

We look forward to much food and a plentiful harvest this year...whether it be delicious organic vegetables, mushrooms or pork, we are excited for another year of being your farmers!

Deepest regards,
The Echollective